Park University Piano Student Has One More Concert In Prestigious International Contest

Jun 2, 2017

Park University graduate student Kenneth Broberg is among 12 pianists who have made it to the semi-finals of the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
Credit Courtesy Park University

UPDATE: This story was updated on Friday, June 9, to reflect Kenneth Broberg's advance to the final round of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

Having advanced to the finals of the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, Kansas City pianist Kenneth Broberg has one more concert to play before learning who will win the competition in Fort Worth, Texas.

After advancing from the semi-finals on Monday, June 5, Broberg played in a quintet on Wednesday and performs a concerto with the Fort Worth Symphony on Friday.

All of the competitors' final concerts are scheduled to be broadcast in 300 movie theaters around the United States (including at the Barrywoods 24 and Kansas City 18 Cinemas at Americstar Casino) on Saturday, June 10.

Winners will be announced at an awards dinner on Saturday night.

Broberg was one of 30 contestants when the competition began on May 25. The 23-year-old graduate student from Plymouth, Minnesota, who is pursing a master's degree in piano performance at Park University’s International Center for Music, was one of just four Americans in the contest.

Heading into the competition, Broberg said he was well-prepared but had no expectations about the outcome.

“It all depends on how you play in the moment in the hall and what the judges ate for breakfast and, there’s too many intangibles to be surprised or not surprised,” Broberg said, adding that he was more excited than nervous.

In a short biographical video posted on the competition's website, Broberg says preparing for such an intense competition requires not just a lot of piano practice but also “a lot of strengthening yourself mentally and physically. Strengthening your fingers so you can project on a big stage," he says in the video, "and mentally getting focused and in the zone so that nothing can distract you.”

Broberg has experience prevailing in piano competitions, having won the Hastings (England) International Piano Competition earlier this year. He also came in fourth at the Sydney (Australia) International Piano Competition last fall.

Broberg's instructor is Stanislav Ioudenitch, who founded the International Center for Music and won the Cliburn competition in 2001.

Winning the Cliburn, Broberg said, is the type of experience that can establish a young classical musician's career.

"I haven’t been through that," he said, "but I imagine that it changes your life dramatically."

C.J. Janovy is an arts reporter for KCUR 89.3. You can find her on Twitter, @cjjanovy.